You’d want, if from anyone, the saving of ‘hip-hop’ so to speak, handled by Freestyle Fellowship. The myriad of styles born and bred via Fellowship-facilities is immeasurable and with carbon-copy delusion crippling much of contemporary hip-hop today, a valiant return from these forefathers might possibly steer a music revolution to capacities unknown (or at the very least, provide refuge from the wack shit). Well, they don’t. With frail beats and spotty concepts the house that Fellowship built wavers, teetering on a fall-off. Worse things have happened but it doesn’t make matters any better when the onetime vanguard of innovation subdues itself within the confines of boring subject matter and uneventful songwriting.
Musically, Tempations is a mere shadow of the Fellowship sways of yesterday. Around 15 songs, more or less all clocking in under the 3 minute mark, there are no “5 O’Clock Follies” or “Inner City Boundaries” here. The integral and always eclectic P.E.A.C.E. unfortunately missing from all but 3 tracks leaves Aceyalone, Mikah 9, and Self Jupiter to man the decks. Acey, still very much in full form at times feels like he’s merely going through the motions. Micah dabbling with a more mature delivery is present and accounted for but not especially memorable, while the long running M.I.A. emcee, Self Jupiter makes good with his time back and provides an interesting if not valuable presence throughout.
Club efforts are made with “Different”, “Sex In The City” and lead-single “Temptations”, enjoyable to a certain extent (the latter 2 featuring all 4 emcees) but hardly timeless, especially in the disposable world of “hot” hip-hop songs. Tracks like “Every Reason Why” (Mikah), “Take That MF” (Acey) and “Best Rapper In The World” (Self Jupiter) prove somewhat likable solo cuts but generally throw the already floundering album off a bit. PEACE does get a dolo-moment though, yet only as a sidebar to the peculiar “Freestyle Fellowship” (featuring none other than RBX). Musically, the feeling/climate of songs doesn’t grow, there is something sterile about it. There are moments of passion in “Ghetto Youth” and “Seasons” but fleeting nonetheless in the grand scope of the LP.
It’s good to have a new Fellowship album of any magnitude, while Tempations lacks much, it truly is better than nothing. Although it’s a far cry from the original-return testament that was recorded around the “Can You Find The Level Of Difficulty In This” sessions (circa 98-99), O.D.’s lush vintage soundscapes just proved more appropriate if not totally congruent to the Fellowship style. But this isn’t that album and that album could never be this one.
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